Thursday, May 17, 2007

On Holiness

I'm living in the gap. It's the place that exists somewhere between what I want to do and what I actually do. The apostle Paul lived there too. It's a sometimes maddening, sometimes exhilerating place to be. The degree to which I narrow that gap is indicative of my willingness to submit my will to that of God's.

I can't make myself holy. God says that's his job (Lev 22:32.) But, oddly, God also tells us to be holy. (Lev 19:2) So which is it? Is God responsible for making me holy, or am I?

Jerry Bridges, in his book The Pursuit of Holiness, makes the case that both are true. He likens growth in holiness to a farmer who plants a field. He says, " A farmer plows his field, sows the seed, and fertilizes and cultivates... [yet] he knows he cannot cause the seed to germinate, nor can he produce the rain and sunshine for growing and harvesting the crop. For a successful harvest, he is dependent on these things from God."

Bridges goes on to make the case that the Christian's responsibility in cultivating holiness is obedience. Now that I have had some time to think about this for a while, I have reduced it to what I think is the core:

holiness is less about what I am doing than it is about how I am responding to God.

(Earth-shattering revelations here, people.)

Bible reading and prayer, evangelism and tithing; these things do not make me holy. My response to him does (or doesn't, as is often the case.) This is not to say that those things aren't important. The first two are indeed prerequisites for even knowing what God desires of me. But without a proper response from me, I have done nothing to "close the gap." And certainly the latter two would be considered holy responses to God. However, if I do them grudingly, not as unto the Lord, or to please men, then they do not cultivate holiness in me either, because these are not proper responses to Him. It would be like watering a seed that was never planted.

So, in response to all of this, I have started asking God to show me areas of my life which need to come under submission to him. For some reason, it has helped me to categorize my life into the things God has entrusted to me. It puts things in the proper perspective so that I can ask him "am I responding to you properly in this area?"

Here are some of the areas of stewardship where I think I have had an improper response to God:
  • my marriage - uh, I stink at the whole marriage thing!
  • my children - as I have focused on willfully submitting myself to God in this area, I can praise Him for small victories in just the last few weeks
  • my home/possessions - needing to be a better caretaker as well as become more generous with these things
  • my body - which is why I am beating it into submission! Trying to make more God-honoring choices regarding food and exercise
  • my mind - God gave me one, and I LOVE IT, but I have neglected using it for a long time. That is changing
  • the envirnoment - taking my responsibility to be a caretaker of God's creation more seriously
  • money - am I using it the way He wants me to? How often to I use it without thinking at all about what he desires? Working on changing this
Some of these things are more personal than others. But I think several of these things are probably struggles for others as well. I will be sharing over the next few weeks (months?) more about my attempts to bring these things into submission to God's will.

God is Holy. He deserves my submission in all these things.

And I want to narrow the gap.

Labels: ,


Blogger Luisa Perkins said...

See? When you share these things, you bless our lives SO MUCH. These are great thoughts, even if they feel imperfect to you.

I really like Bridges' analogy; I might have to read this book.

Thu May 17, 06:20:00 AM  
Blogger Brenda said...

I believe you answered your own question about how to write these things without sounding self-righteous. Well done! And timely, I might add. These are areas in which I need to practice submission as well.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Tue May 22, 06:05:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home